Eric Carmen (born Eric Howard Carmen, August 11, 1949, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.) is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist.
His greatest success came in the 1970s, first as a member of The Raspberries (who scored a major hit with their song "Go All the Way"), and then with his solo career, including hits such as "All By Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again".
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Carmen liked music since early childhood, and by age two, he was entertaining his parents, Ruth and Elmer Carmen, with impressions of Tony Bennett and Johnnie Ray. By age three, he was in the Dalcroze Eurhythmics program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. At six years old, he took violin lessons from Muriel Carmen (his aunt), then a violinist with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Carmen grew up in Lyndhurst, Ohio. By age 11, he was playing piano and dreaming about writing his own songs. The arrival of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones altered his dream slightly. By the time he was a sophomore at Charles F. Brush High School, Eric Carmen was playing piano and singing in rock 'n' roll bands.
Though classically trained in piano, Carmen became a self-taught guitarist. At 15, he started guitar lessons, but since the teacher's approach did not fit with what he wanted, he decided to teach himself. He bought a Beatles chord book and taught himself to play guitar for the next four months.
Tenure with The Raspberries
Carmen became serious about being a musician while attending John Carroll University. He joined a band named Cyrus Erie, which recorded several unsuccessful singles for Epic records. Cyrus Erie guitarist Wally Bryson had been playing with friends Jim Bonfanti and Dave Smalley in one of Cleveland's most popular bands, the Choir, which scored a minor national hit in 1967 with the single "It's Cold Outside".
When Cyrus Erie and the Choir collapsed at the end of the 1960s, Carmen, Bryson, Bonfanti and Smalley teamed up to form The Raspberries, a rock and roll band who were amongst the chief exponents of the power pop style. Carmen was the lead singer of the group, and wrote or co-wrote all their hit songs. In 1975, after the breakup of The Raspberries, he started his solo career, de-emphasizing harder rock elements in favor of soft rock and power ballads, which were already the hallmark of Carmen tracks on Raspberries albums.
In 2004, Carmen, along with original Raspberries members Jim Bonfanti, Wally Bryson, and Dave Smalley, re-formed the band for a series of sold-out live performances in cities across the United States. On that tour, The Raspberries recorded a live album of their hits at The House of Blues on Sunset Strip, in Hollywood, California. Both the show and album received critical acclaim . Carmen himself has stated that he planned to write new harder-edged songs for the band to perform in the same vein as those that the Raspberries performed in the 1970s.
His first two solo singles were chart hits in 1976. Musically, both were built around works by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The first of these ? "All By Myself," which is very similar to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 ? hit #2 in the United States and #12 in the United Kingdom, where it would be his only charting hit. Then, "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" ? also heavily inspired by Symphony No. 2 ? reached #11; however, it did reach #1 for one week on the US adult contemporary chart, as well as Cashbox. Two years after its 1975 release, the album was certified Gold in 1977 for sales of 500,000 copies. "That's Rock and Roll" was also a #3 hit single for singer Shaun Cassidy.
Carmen's second album, "Boats Against the Current" came out in the summer of 1977 after a year-long delay, and featured such backup players as Burton Cummings, Andrew Gold, Bruce Johnston and Nigel Olsson. It spent 13 weeks in the Billboard Top 200, peaking for two weeks at #45. It produced the Top 30 hit "She Did It," but the title track only managed to scrape the bottom of the chart. A third single taken from the album, "Marathon Man," became his first solo single not to hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Shaun Cassidy again made the Top 10 in 1978 with Carmen's "Hey Deanie." For several weeks in the fall of 1977, Carmen had three compositions charting concurrently on the Billboard Hot 100, Cassidy's two big hits and Carmen's own "She Did It."
Carmen followed up with two more albums. Despite declining chart fortunes, the single "Change of Heart" broke into the top 20 in late 1978. But in 1980, he temporarily withdrew from the music industry. Four years later, after Mike Reno and Ann Wilson topped the charts (Pop #7; Adult Contemporary #1) with the Carmen-penned ballad "Almost Paradise" (the love theme to the film Footloose), he resurfaced on Geffen Records with a second self-titled album and a further top 40 hit, "I Wanna Hear It From Your Lips". The follow-up single, "I'm Through with Love," also cracked the Billboard Hot 100. Another track from the album, "Maybe My Baby," later became a country hit for Louise Mandrell.
However, it was a few more years before Carmen made a real pop culture comeback with two songs: first with a hit from the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, "Hungry Eyes" (US #4) written by John DeNicola & Franke Previte, and then with the self-penned #3 hit "Make Me Lose Control." Both songs became Top 5 hits on the music charts. However, Carmen did not follow these hits with a new album.
The year 2000 saw the stateside release of I Was Born to Love You, which had been released in 1998 only in Japan as Winter Dreams. Carmen eschewed the use of a band on the recording, playing most of the instruments and programming the drum parts himself. The album did not find a large audience, but Carmen has continued to enjoy success placing songs with other artists over the years.
Carmen has taken a laid-back approach to music for most of the past decade, working only when the mood strikes him. He moved back to Northeast Ohio from Los Angeles a few years ago, supporting his wife, Susan, and their two children, Clayton and Kathryn, with songwriting and publishing royalties from his past hits.